The experience of being born a yellow-bone : a phenomenological study of University of KwaZulu-Natal students.
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This study aimed to determine the lived experiences of participating students who are born with light skin. The study specifically explored the participants’ understanding of the advantages and disadvantages and challenges associated with being light-skinned. A qualitative design method was used to implement the study. A purposively selected sample of twelve participants from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus took part in the study regardless of their level of study, of which six were females, and six were males, and they were all Black South Africans. Data was collected using an in-depth interview method. To analyse the results, an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was used. The end goal was to reveal the essence of participants’ experiences brought about by their being born light-skinned, encompassing their accounts as to how they feel as they live with light skin in a society with other people with different skin tones. The results of the study showed that people who are born light-skinned are faced with some specifiable positive and negative experiences arising from the condition of their ‘yellow-bone’ endowment. Some of the positive experiences include: having a positive feeling because of their light skin tone; the feeling of being easily sought out for courtship; the fact that they do not struggle to get a mating partner; and the phenomenon of feeling good for being endowed with a skin colour that is preferred in society. Some of their negative experiences include the crisis of suffering from exclusion and name-calling from some members of the society; the experience of being underestimated, and the negative experience of being treated like people with loose morals. Implications of these findings were examined, and some recommendations were made to encourage further studies along the lines of the present study.